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Gemini MOSCITO 1D = precisely 4 spades, 1S = 5+ spades

#1 User is offline   MickyB 

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Posted 2007-February-23, 20:30

This is an attempt to explain how I reached the opening structure for my new system, 'Gemini'. Any thoughts or corrections would be greatly appreciated.

--

It is clear to me that strong club systems should use the 1D opening to show spades.

When a spade fit exists, it is important to find it, because spades out-rank all other suits. If you open 1NT and miss your heart fit, this is less likely to matter, because the par contract could well be 2S by your opponents. Indeed, you may find you get a good board when your weak NT preempts the opponents out of their spade fit. For this reason, I believe that you should try to avoid opening 1NT with 4 spades, but to freely open it holding 4 hearts and 2-3 spades.

As your opening showing spades already includes balanced hands, but your opening with hearts does not, it is preferable to put hands with 4-4 in the majors into your opening showing spades. Also, assuming that you don't have an opening to show both majors, it is clear to show spades first on all hands with 5+spades and 4+hearts, because this allows you to follow-up with a rebid in hearts. If you show hearts first, you may then want to introduce your spades later, forcing preference to hearts a level higher. Indeed, there is a case for showing spades first even with 4 spades and 5+hearts, intending to bid both suits yourself. In this case, it is clear that you should use 1D to show spades (as opposed to using, say, 1H and 1S both showing spades).

With an unbalanced hand with only 4 hearts, the situation is different; if you pass a natural 1NT opening and miss a 4-4 heart fit, you are unlikely to have missed a good 4 contract. If you opened a natural, unbalanced 2m and partner, assuming a misfit, passes, you could well have missed a good 4 contract.

So, I think it would be an improvement on current MOSCITO variants to have -

1C = strong
1D = 4+spades
1H = 4+hearts, either unbalanced or 5332
1S = 4+diamonds, either 6D or both minors
1N = 11-14 (or whatever), denies 4 spades or 5 hearts
2C = natural, 6+cards

When holding 4S5+H it would clearly be superior to open 1H in this context, as it promises an unbalanced hand and allows opener to differentiate between having longer hearts and equal or longer spades.

The problem with this is that your (very frequent) 1D opening isn't that well defined. I believe that MOSCITOers generally believe it is right to raise freely to the 2 level with three card support, but when responder is balanced this can easily be a silly contract. Similarly, with four card support, it isn't clear to responder whether to raise/compete to the two- or three-level, and if he raises to only the two-level opener won't know to place him with a fourth trump.

With an unbalanced hand without a 4 card major, natural openings at the two level work well; They preempt against the opponents presumed major fit, and leave partner well placed to further the preempt, knowing that opener either has a six card suit or a bit of shape - (13)(45) pattern. This is especially advantageous when opening in first seat, as you can have the auction at a high level before 4th seat gets his first chance to call.

These points encourage me to use a natural, constructive 2D opening, and remove some hands from the 1D opening into the 1S opening. The downside to this is losing 2D from the preemptive structure, but I think that is a price easily worth paying. Nick Hughes suggests using 1S as both majors, and I think that this works very well, as when partner opens 1D or 1H and you have length in the both majors, you can happily preempt knowing that you aren't missing a better fit in the other one; when you hold length in partner's major and shortness in the other, you can preempt higher against the opponents' known major-suit fit. (FWIW, using this structure I would prefer to open 1NT on 4=3=3=3 patterns, giving responder the guarantee of a little shape for a 1D opening).

Instead, I advocate using 1D to show precisely 4 spades and 1S to show 5+.

[beginning of edit]

When partner has opened 1D, responder will initially assume that he has a flattish hand (he will be balanced or 4(225) approximately 70% of the time). He doesn't feel the need to raise on a flat hand with 3 card support to cater to partner having a suitable hand for playing in spades, but he can still raise on 3 cards when holding an outside singleton. It is much less likely that opener, having promised precisely 4 spades, will wonder whether he should be competing further later; responder is firmly in control of the auction.

When opener has five spades, responder is able to compete higher or preempt further than he would opposite a 4+card opening. There is also no later confusion over whether opener has a canapé opening or not, as he has shown or denied a 5th spade with his first bid. This is very useful both in contested and uncontested auctions.

Are the gains of this method greater than using a 1S opening to show both majors? I believe so. Splitting the balanced hands with four spades between the 1D and 1S openings seems wrong to me, it makes it much harder to judge when partner has a weak NT. My method also allows more balanced hands to be opened - In an uncontested auction there is room for opener to show a minimum or maximum, while in a contested auction responder can usually find an action if he wishes to be in game opposite a maximum. 4432s with 10-15 points and 4333s with 11-15 points can open 1D quite comfortably.

Compared to MOSCITO, I feel that we are better placed in competitive auctions on nearly all hands with a 4+card major (arguably, the exception being hands with 4S5+H). Unlike MOSCITO, our 2C opening can be (13)45, but I think that the loss there is minimal. It's hard to say how the natural 2D opening will compare to the MOSCITO 1S opening showing 4+D. Overall, I think this system leaves partner better placed in competition than any strong club system I have seen.

So, what are the losses? Well, as mentioned before, we've lost the 2D opening from our preemptive structure. Also, starting with 1S rather than 1H on hands with 5+spades pushes us up in uncontested auctions, particularly as 1NT is probably needed for investigating the best part-score.

[End of edit]

So, here we have Gemini - so called due to the twin openings showing spades.

1C - any 16+, or rule of 25 (EBU regulations require this) (10%)
1D - 10-15, precisely 4 spades, any shape (10.5%)
1H - 4+hearts, 0-3 spades, if precisely 4 hearts then will be 1444 or have a longer minor (8.5%)
1S - 5+spades (7.2%)
1N - 12-15, denies 4S or 5H (7%)
2m - 11-15 nat, unbal, denies a 4 card major (1.8% each)
2NT - 5+/5+ minors, fairly offensive when vul

Btw, this opening structure is legal under the ACBL GCC. I don't know whether any sensible continuations are permitted.

Some of my calculations of the frequencies of the openings do not merit the level of precision given above! 22(45) would always be treated as balanced; (24)(25) and 6m322 would open 1NT if particularly suitable, as may the odd (13)(45), with a stiff king and a poor five card suit. 7-4 patterns would be treated as single-suited, indeed there is a case for opening 2m on some hands with 6m4M.

The response structure is not yet finalised, but I am leaning towards -

1D:
1H = natural F1
1S = ART INV+
1N, 2C, 2D = nat NF
2H = 4+spades, inv+
2S = 4 cards, or 3 cards with an outside singleton, weak

1H:
1S = ART, denies 5 spades or 3 hearts, looking for best strain
1N = ART GF
2C = 5+spades
2D = 3+hearts, inv+
2H = weak raise

1S:
1N = NF/F1
2C = ART GF
2D = 5+Hearts
2H = 3+spades, inv+

1N:
Standard stuff, except invitational hands with a 5 card major go through "Stayman"

2m:
Step one ART enquiry, otherwise 2M is natural constructive NF
2D:2NT = hearts, F1

This post has been edited by MickyB: 2007-March-02, 20:06

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Posted 2007-February-23, 23:02

I don't mean to be a spoilsport, but using 1D to show 4S and 1S to show 5 is a total waste of time. Your rationale that 1D 2S can be a silly contract if opener only has 4S is spurious. You are playing 2 handed Bridge and are totally negating one of the reasons for playing a light opening system, namely that opponents make mistakes. It is very easy to make a mistake by balancing over a 7 card rather than over a known 8 card fit. Tnt goes out the window. Look at some of the results obtained by balancing over the 3 card raise.

Further you are over complication the issue by forcing different relay structures over 1D, 1H and 1S. This is going to very easy to forget and adds futher memory strain.

Just a bit more to add - "Also, assuming that you don't have an opening to show both majors, it is clear to show spades first on all hands with 5+spades and 4+hearts, because this allows you to follow-up with a rebid in hearts."

The above quote is also not necessarily true. Have a look at the Caroline club, a very playable and quite well designed system, in which with 5+S and 4H you open 1H.
"The King of Hearts a broadsword bears, the Queen of Hearts a rose." W. H. Auden.
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#3 User is offline   MickyB 

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Posted 2007-February-24, 06:03

The_Hog, on Feb 24 2007, 05:02 AM, said:

I don't mean to be a spoilsport, but using 1D to show 4S and 1S to show 5 is a total waste of time.

I don't see how this can be true. If nothing else, hands with a 5 card major are better placed having opened a 5 card major.

Quote

Your rationale that 1D 2S can be a silly contract if opener only has 4S is spurious. You are playing 2 handed Bridge and are totally negating one of the reasons for playing a light opening system, namely that opponents make mistakes. It is very easy to make a mistake by balancing over a 7 card rather than over a known 8 card fit. Tnt goes out the window. Look at some of the results obtained by balancing over the 3 card raise.


I'm not aiming to reach a known 8 card fit, just to give responder the power to decide. As I said before, a weakish hand with three card support and an outside singleton would be expected to bid 2 over 1. If responder's singleton happens to be opposite opener's second suit, the penalty for balancing could be huge.

Playing against some MOSCITO pairs, I would advocate balancing rarely after 1R:2M, as it is more likely that they have already over-competed the hand than under-competed.

The suggestion that I am playing two-handed bridge is misguided, IMO - I know of very few systems that ensure finding a spade fit but not a heart fit when opener is balanced, and the reasoning behind this is clearly four-handed.

Quote

Further you are over complication the issue by forcing different relay structures over 1D, 1H and 1S. This is going to very easy to forget and adds further memory strain.


Fair point.

Quote

Just a bit more to add - "Also, assuming that you don't have an opening to show both majors, it is clear to show spades first on all hands with 5+spades and 4+hearts, because this allows you to follow-up with a rebid in hearts."

The above quote is also not necessarily true. Have a look at the Caroline club, a very playable and quite well designed system, in which with 5+S and 4H you open 1H.


Okay, I've just read up on Caroline Club.

As far as I can tell, the only reason that it advocates opening 1H on 5S4H is because hands with 5+M4+m open at the two level, so there are few unbalanced hands with 5 spades opening 1. Obviously, this isn't true of my system, or the similar systems that I am discussing.

The authors acknowledge that responding to 1 is much more complex due to the inclusion of these hands. I believe that some of the problems this approach causes are insurmountable.
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#4 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2007-February-24, 08:53

MickyB, on Feb 24 2007, 03:03 PM, said:


Hi Mike: For kicks and giggles I'm going to select a couple quotes from your last posting

Quote

The suggestion that I am playing two-handed bridge is misguided


Quote

I don't see how this can be true. If nothing else, hands with a 5 card major are better placed having opened a 5 card major


I would make the argument that thee two statements are incongruous.

More specifically, the second statement is an assumption (a big one at that). I will readily admit that opening a 5 card major is more descriptive than opening a 4 card major. You provide a much more accurate description of your hand. However, you're going beyond this. You are asserting that this type of precision is more more useful to partner than to the opponents.

I normally associate these types of thought processes with two handed bridge, with its emphasis on constructive bidding.
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#5 User is offline   MickyB 

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Posted 2007-February-24, 09:06

hrothgar, on Feb 24 2007, 02:53 PM, said:

MickyB, on Feb 24 2007, 03:03 PM, said:

 

Hi Mike: For kicks and giggles I'm going to select a couple quotes from your last posting

Quote

The suggestion that I am playing two-handed bridge is misguided


Quote

I don't see how this can be true. If nothing else, hands with a 5 card major are better placed having opened a 5 card major


I would make the argument that thee two statements are incongruous.

More specifically, the second statement is an assumption (a big one at that). I will readily admit that opening a 5 card major is more descriptive than opening a 4 card major. You provide a much more accurate description of your hand. However, you're going beyond this. You are asserting that this type of precision is more more useful to partner than to the opponents.

I normally associate these types of thought processes with two handed bridge, with its emphasis on constructive bidding.

Agreed, I am asserting that it is more useful to partner than to opponents. I think it is true, and I don't think it's close.

It is useful in that it allows responder to preempt further and compete more readily than a 4 card opening would. This is four-handed thinking, right? It does a better job of putting one member of our partnership in a good position to judge the auction. What he does with that position is up to him.

If your style is to "embrace the chaos", then fine - let responder raise the 5 card suit on a doubleton.
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Posted 2007-February-24, 09:09

hrothgar, on Feb 24 2007, 09:53 AM, said:

More specifically, the second statement is an assumption (a big one at that). I will readily admit that opening a 5 card major is more descriptive than opening a 4 card major. You provide a much more accurate description of your hand. However, you're going beyond this. You are asserting that this type of precision is more more useful to partner than to the opponents.

How is knowing that opener have 5 card suit helps the opponents even 1/10 of what it helps partner ?
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#7 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2007-February-24, 09:52

MickyB, on Feb 24 2007, 06:06 PM, said:

Agreed, I am asserting that it is more useful to partner than to opponents. I think it is true, and I don't think it's close.

It is useful in that it allows responder to preempt further and compete more readily than a 4 card opening would. This is four-handed thinking, right? It does a better job of putting one member of our partnership in a good position to judge the auction. What he does with that position is up to him.

If your style is to "embrace the chaos", then fine - let responder raise the 5 card suit on a doubleton.

Hi Mike

Spades >= 4 and Spades >= 5 are very sections of the curve.

I just ran a couple simple scripts. The first script assumes that dealer has 4+ Spades and responder has exactly 3 spades. I then calculated the frequency that the partnership has "X" Spades. I repeated the same little experiment, this time assuming that dealer has 5+ Spades and responder has exactly 2.

The numbers should be pretty self explanatory

Dealer = 4+ Spades

Spade fit
7 = 58.8%
8 = 30.3%
9 = 9.2%
10 = 1.6%
11 = neglible
12 = neglible
13 = neglible

Dealer = 5+ Spades

Spade fit
7 = 67.7%
8 = 25.7%
9 = 5.8%
10 = 1%
11 = neglible
12 = neglible
13 = neglible
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#8 User is offline   Free 

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Posted 2007-February-24, 09:55

When opponents want to play 2M, it's almost obligated to balance if they have a fit. However, if they don't have a fit, it's dangerous to balance! So what does it help opponents? It takes away the risk of balancing after 1-p-2.

This is one of the reasons why MOSCITO suggests raising on a 3 card suit at 2-level: opponents just don't know if opener holds a 4 or 5 card Major => they don't know if we have a real fit => they don't know if balancing is obligated or too dangerous. It's almost 50-50, so whenever they balance they take a risk.

Imo it's more important to show your length, not the . I hear you ask why. With s, opener can always balance if he has more length, without raising the level. With however, it's imperative that you raise to the right level immediately and let your opponents make the decisions. So by showing length, you can raise to 3 level or 2 level the way you need to, while with you have more time. A few simple examples (using 1M natural to keep it simple):
1(4+) - pass - 2(3-4) - ...

1(5+) - pass - 2(3) - ...

1(5+) - pass - 3(4) - ...

1(4+) - pass - 2(3-4) - ...

1(5+) - pass - 2(3) - ...

1(5+) - pass - 3(4) - ...
The ambiguity is very useful, especially at 2-level.
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Posted 2007-February-24, 10:19

MickyB, on Feb 24 2007, 04:06 PM, said:

Agreed, I am asserting that it is more useful to partner than to opponents. I think it is true, and I don't think it's close.

Well said Mike.

Richard (and others), I'm sure everyone agrees that sometimes 4-card openings can cause the opponents problems, and responder's raise to the 2-level is undoubtedly the best example of this. But what about all the other ways the auction can turn out? I'm really struggling to think of any more examples where the opponents have a particularly difficult problem, whereas it's easy to think of situations where knowing whether opener had a 5-card major would be helpful to partner. Do you really believe that on average the information is more useful to the opponents? We can't prove anything of course, but that seems very unlikely to me.
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Posted 2007-February-24, 10:34

The_Hog, on Feb 24 2007, 06:02 AM, said:

Just a bit more to add - "Also, assuming that you don't have an opening to show both majors, it is clear to show spades first on all hands with 5+spades and 4+hearts, because this allows you to follow-up with a rebid in hearts."

The above quote is also not necessarily true. Have a look at the Caroline club, a very playable and quite well designed system, in which with 5+S and 4H you open 1H.

I agree with Mike on this as well.

Whatever you might think of the system as a whole, this is hardly going to be its greatest feature. It's more the sort of thing you do when you can't find anywhere else to put the hands. It must be really easy to lose a spade fit this way (or to get too high by trying to get spades into the picture later).
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#11 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2007-February-24, 10:56

david_c, on Feb 24 2007, 07:19 PM, said:

MickyB, on Feb 24 2007, 04:06 PM, said:

Agreed, I am asserting that it is more useful to partner than to opponents. I think it is true, and I don't think it's close.

Well said Mike.

Richard (and others), I'm sure everyone agrees that sometimes 4-card openings can cause the opponents problems, and responder's raise to the 2-level is undoubtedly the best example of this. But what about all the other ways the auction can turn out? I'm really struggling to think of any more examples where the opponents have a particularly difficult problem, whereas it's easy to think of situations where knowing whether opener had a 5-card major would be helpful to partner. Do you really believe that on average the information is more useful to the opponents? We can't prove anything of course, but that seems very unlikely to me.

I'd like to compare a couple different auctions:

The opponents are playing a standard system. LHO opens 1 and RHO advances 1. You overcall 2

(1) - P - (1) - 2

The opponents are playing a system based on 5 card majors. RHO opens 1. You overcall 2

(1) - 2

My impression is that the majority of pairs treat the 2 cue bid in the first auction as a natural bid. In a similar vein, I beleive that the majority of pairs treat 2 cue in the second auction as Michaels or some other artifical treatment.

I've always found this inconsistency intresting. I understant that people need the ability to expose a psyche in the first case. Even so, people have made a choice to adopt very different methods over a 1 advance that shows 4+ Spades compared to a 1 opening that promises 5+ Spades.

There are an awful lot of other analagous examples where the choice of a 4+ card opening style is going to have a significant impact on the choice of bidding methods.
(Differences in the style of direct seat "takeout" doubles like (1) - X between countries with widespread use of canape / 4 card majors and 5 card majors is the other obvious example)

In both cases, the imprecision of the initial 4 card major opening have enormous impact in the complexity of the followup auctions.
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#12 User is offline   the hog 

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Posted 2007-February-24, 20:56

Mike,
My comment re Caroline Club was not a statement that the canape opening of 1H, (With longer S), was the be all and end all; rather it was to show that it is possible to play that style. And no, you rarely lose the S fit and you frequently gain as you bid 1S with a 3 card suit over the 1H opening. Thus you sometimes talk the opps out of their S fit.

The reason I said it was a waste of time is that you have lost a bid at the 1 level and imo gained nothing.

I don't object to having 1D show S and 1H show H. This was a Moscito aapproach some years ago, and Nick Hughes has adopted it in the system, (SCAMP), he plays with his wife, Nicoletta. I played these openings as well, but of course as 4+ cards. (I would agree with Nick that it is very useful to have an opening to show both Ms, whether that be 1S or 1NT). The major advantage of this structure, is as I said, that 1S can be the beginning of the relay, and it is uniform over both 1D and 1H. I still contend this is a huge plus.

My next comments are anecdotal, as I no longer have any records as to our results at the time, but I can say that we rarely had a bad board using the "3 card raise", and in fact found that bid to be a winner. As Free states above and as I posted originally, it is difficult for opps to balance and they will run into trouble on occasions.

The other thing to bear in mind is that just because responder has a hand with 3 card support does not meant that he HAS to bid 2M. On unsuitable hands just bid 1NT. We raised to 2 if the responding hand had a stiff, or a rag doubleton with outside fast cards. I'm not suggesting our results were always great, they weren't but we gained far more than we lost.

Richard's numbers above are telling in themselves.
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#13 User is online   awm 

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Posted 2007-February-27, 17:03

There really is a difference between hearts and spades. In many situations there is a choice between showing your degree of fit immediately and concealing the degree of fit. In general the tradeoffs are:

(1) By showing your fit immediately, you raise the level of the auction and thereby make it harder for opponents to compete.

(2) By showing your fit immediately, you make it easier for partner to decide whether to bid one more if opponents judge to come in.

(3) By hiding the fit, you may prevent opponents from competing on a hand where they would otherwise balance, since they're not sure if you have a "real" fit or just a preference.

(4) By hiding the degree of fit, you may buy the hand a level lower (say at 2M instead of 3M) if the opponents simply can't find a balancing call.

These ideas crop up in a lot of places, from Moscito 4-card major openings to constructive raises and bergen raises to super-accepting transfers. My general observation is that opponents compete a lot more aggressively over 2 than over 2, since over an auction like 1-P-2 there's often a spade fit to be had, allowing opponents to play 2, whereas over 1-P-2 they must go to the three level to compete (much riskier and less likely to pay off). For this reason it makes sense to show fit right away with hearts and perhaps "overcompete" the hand slightly, and to take things slow with spades. For example, as applied to Moscito openings:

If partner opens 1 (4+), it makes sense to raise directly on three. This will sometimes cause the opponents to balance when you have only a seven-card fit, which will often be advantageous. It also helps partner out if/when the opponents do bid, because if the auction goes 1-P-1NT-2, your potential 5-3 heart fit may be buried forever. If partner opens 1 (4+) then raising to the three-level on four-card support is not necessarily a bad thing, since you will usually not buy the hand at 2 with an 8-9 card fit in any case. However, if partner opens 1 (4+) then there is less incentive to bid 2 on three cards. The opponents are less likely to make a bad balancing call over 2 (people are less aggressive here). If you bid 2 on four and opponents do balance, you can always push to 3 later with relatively little chance they will bid on over you, and if they don't balance you've bought the contract a level lower. If opponents bid over 1-P-1NT, you can usually rebid 2 over their two-level call.
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#14 User is offline   MickyB 

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Posted 2007-February-27, 19:27

Apologies, have been away for a few days.

Yes, as Adam says, competing over 2 in a guaranteed 5-3 spade fit is far from automatic.

Quote

Dealer = 4+ Spades

Spade fit
7 = 58.8%
8 = 30.3%
9 = 9.2%
10 = 1.6%
11 = neglible


I'd advocate protecting much less aggressively over your 1:2 auction than standard methods - I would almost require a stiff/void spade. When both hands are balanced, 2 will often play appallingly.

I also feel that you will often have issues deciding whether to compete to 3 in a 5-4 fit, either immediately or over any balancing action. I don't know if this is the predominant style amongst MOSCITOers, but I think automatically preempting to 3 on a possible 15 total trump deal will often result in going minus when the hand belonged to your side (or it did not, but you would have bought it for 2 anyway).
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#15 User is offline   MickyB 

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Posted 2007-February-27, 19:38

The_Hog, on Feb 25 2007, 02:56 AM, said:

Mike,
My comment re Caroline Club was not a statement that the canape opening of 1H, (With longer S), was the be all and end all; rather it was to show that it is possible to play that style. And no, you rarely lose the S fit and you frequently gain as you bid 1S with a 3 card suit over the 1H opening. Thus you sometimes talk the opps out of their S fit.

Besides the competitive auctions where opener doesn't feel able to introduce his spade suit at a high level, having to respond 1 on only three of them must make it harder to find an 8 card fit when responder has five of them. Requiring 1:2 to "usually deny 3 spades" is a pain too.

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The other thing to bear in mind is that just because responder has a hand with 3 card support does not meant that he HAS to bid 2M. On unsuitable hands just bid 1NT.


Fair enough, but my understanding is that many MOSCITO players disagree with this. It also makes finding 5-3 fits somewhat harder.

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The reason I said it was a waste of time is that you have lost a bid at the 1 level and imo gained nothing.


I've edited my original post, hopefully I've done a better job of explaining what I believe the gains to be.

This post has been edited by MickyB: 2007-February-27, 20:37

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